I’m headed off to Amsterdam VERY SOON with STA Travel. It’s part of a YouTube promotion they’re doing (check out their channel here) and there’s going to be a film crew following me around. O-M-G I’m going to be famous. And you know what? I’m totally worried about what to pack. (Don’t worry — I’m not some sort of pompous, pretentious fashion freak, it’s just I’m not sure what outfits and styles I should have with me. Amsterdam seems from the outside to be a rather fashionable city. Those Dutch men… so tall and handsome….) Anyways, all this fretting about what to wear had me thinking: what are my travel fashion essentials?
If you’ve ever looked at my Twitter bio, you’d know that I (almost) always travel with skinny ties and skinny jeans. Truth be told, I rarely get a chance to wear skinny ties these days. The jeans, though — they’re definitely in my luggage for every trip. What else is in my bag? Here’s the skinny (sorry for the pun).
Travel Fashion Essentials: How to Look Good, Travel Well & Pack Light
Shoes make the man
I was late to the sneakerhead trend (even if it was a ’90s thing) but it seems to me that shoes are one of the more important parts of the outfit. There’s a long-running joke here in Europe that all you need to do to spot an American tourist, is look at their shoes. White sneakers? Oh yes. He’s a bro.
There are countless footwear brands but my time-old favorite has to be the Converse. I was as late to the Converse party as I was to the shoes-are-cool party, and because of that, I’m sticking to them for as long as I can. I traveled around the world with a single black pair of simple Chucks in 2010. These days, they’re 100% the one fashion brand that I consistently own. And for traveling, you can’t really go with a better shoe. The low-tops are small and can be easily compressed and put into a backpack (if you’re switching up pairs). They’re tough and durable — mine typically last for years.
SHOPPING TIP: I buy my Converse online from Zalando. Mostly because Zalando is the mega-online-shoestore in Europe and they give out discount vouchers like it’s nothing in Berlin. Careful when you visit their website, though, because it can be addictive going through their trends and sales pages.
Socks are the new ties
For the past few years, socks have been all the rage. Trend pieces pop up every couple of years claiming socks to be the new ties — they’re a chance to casually show some individuality, to express oneself. And you know what? Even if we’ve moved past the obnoxious, over-the-top patterns & styles, it’s still a quick and easy way to add a bit of character to your outfit. And when you’re packing for travel, always make sure you bring extra socks. I don’t particularly worry too much about my clothing getting dirty while traveling, but there are some clothes I just will not wear if they’re in an awful state. Socks.
SHOPPING TIP: Try brands like Happy Socks and Ted Baker which make some nice styles.
Always pack sexy underwear
Listen up, guys. Underwear is important. Because luggage space is precious, I typically pack my skimpiest underwear (read: hipsters & briefs). They take up less space, they’re comfortable and they get the job done.
SHOPPING TIP: Oh there are so many underwear brands that I like. Andrew Christian and Muchachomalo* are favorites, but there’s also aussieBum with a new line out.
You always need denim
I’d be lost and uncomfortable without my favorite pair of jeans during a trip. They kind of make the whole outfit. A nice pair of skinny jeans can go a long way — especially when traveling in Europe. They’re often good enough to get you into a decent club without having to worry about dressing up or dressing down. Jeans are universally awesome. I wouldn’t dream of traveling without them. The only downside is the amount of space they take up in my luggage, but it’s worth it.
SHOPPING TIP: I’m 100% a Levi’s guy.
Tell time easily
This is it — my top trick for traveling easy with a bit of style. Wear a watch. I know this goes against every backpacking rule out there (ugh – rules?!) but in most city destinations, having a watch won’t make you stand out. In fact, you might just look even more like a local. In the past few months I’ve started a small collection of watches, buying most of them at the Berlin flea markets for between 5€ and 10€, though I did also buy a watch on sale recently from Zalando.co.uk.
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With these travel fashion tips you can easily add a bit of style to your trip without packing more than you need. Other accessories that I bring on occasion, though, include: suspenders, skinny ties, trendy t-shirts and hats. I still haven’t found a good way to travel with hats, though — maybe I should start bringing hat boxes like they do in the old movies?!
What are the simple things you pack to
I always wear a watch despite those backpacking ‘rules’. Oh and my skinny jeans, which I only wear in colder climates and for going out in the evenings, shorts are more my thing
Glad to hear I’m not alone in backpacking with a watch!
I find that simple works best. Plain tee shirts, jeans, and colors that match everything. I recently met someone traveling that had a tweed jacket for warmth. It looked well worn but very classy over jeans and a tee shirt plus it doesn’t wrinkle in a suitcase.
Tweed jacket – brilliant tip!
Fashion has been a bit of an afterthought in my travels … maybe its time for the that to change … thanks for the inspiration!
Go for it Will! I don’t think it necessarily should be something you worry too much when prepping for a trip which is why for me there are just some really simple things to pack which can add a bit of style to your adventures…
I think it’s very cool you were part of an STA travel shoot. Would love to know how it went!
Thanks Christina! It was SO MUCH FUN! You can read more about it here, or check out some of my recent blog posts which feature the stories & videos from the trip :)
Thanks for the awesome tips..Zalando! amazing xx
Yep – they’re Berlin based so quite popular here. It’s a decent site for getting the occasional good deals!
Traveling with hats is so difficult. When we moved to Japan my husband gave most of his hats to his brother because we had no idea how to pack them without ruining them. So sad. A convenient way to pack and protect hats needs to be invented!
You’re so right, Erin! Packing hats is such a challenge – mine always end up ruined :(
I’ve never understood the white sneaker stereotype for Americans. I live in Virginia, and the only men I see wearing white shoes are old (like, 70+). While at university, one of the Italian exchange students wore white pumas, but that’s the only example I can recall of a younger person wearing white shoes! Maybe it’s an old stereotype? Or just not applicable to Virginians! :P
You’re right Katrina – it might be a bit of an outdated stereotype. I think we’ve started dressing better in general — especially men! Grooming and style wasn’t ever something men considered, but with the rise of the metrosexual I think that’s definitely changed.
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